Posts Tagged ‘cosmetic surgery’

‘Does my bum look big in this?’ For years that was a question that when asked by a woman of a man, had only one acceptable answer – ‘no’. A small pert rear-end was desired, and any item of clothing that made it look any other way was to be avoided. At least that was the case among white women.
But in the parallel universe that is inhabited by Black folk a different aesthetic was in place. Back in 1992 West Coast rapper Sir Mix A Lot released the track Baby Got Back – a song and video in which he paid tribute to the ample posteriors of Black women.

Back then, infact throughout most of the latter half of the 20th century, the western ideal of beauty has been the skinny blonde: not a model that most Black women can fit into (or even aspire to without doing damage to their physical and mental well-being). Appropriately Black popular culture has always celebrated the fuller-figured woman. But traditionally the more robust phenotypes of Black women were looked down upon, or even scorned and mocked by the mainstream.
Remember Caroline Wozniaki – the tennis player who made fun of Serena Williams by stuffing her clothes with towels to mimic Williams’ curves?

Caroline Wozniaki
Caroline Wozniaki

But despite the disrespect from the mainstream, the Black camp maintained their campaign, mainly through rappers who’s videos consistently gave prominence to curvaceous hip-hop honies.
Now it seems that this centuary the two camps are meeting. I don’t know if it was down to J-Lo, or Beyonce or Kim Kardashian, but it’s clear now that even in the mainstream, bigger booties are in vogue. (Interestingly, whilst J-Lo tried to play down the interest in her butt as she attempted to be taken seriously as an actress, Kim K (in the absence of any discernable talent other than her body and self-promotion) seems to be accentuating her butt more the more famous she gets!)

The Kardashian sisters dazzle fans at their Nordstroms jewelry opening and then fly out together, Orange County.
… showing their behinds
Both J Lo and Kim Kardashian got ahead ………

There was a time when white women would sheepishly cover their backsides with long shirts or jumpers tied around the waist. Not any more. Now they display them proudly for all to see, sometimes even encasing them in figure-hugging lycra for greater effect.
The mainstream’s new fascination with a fuller behind has even reached the highest echelons of British society. (Remember at the last Royal wedding all the fuss made about Pippa Middleton’s bum?)
Women of ALL races are now sweating in the gym, or even going under the knife in order to get a more shapely posterior. According to a new American Society of Plastic Surgeons report, last year, a staggering 10,000 buttock augmentation procedures were performed in the United States, up 16 percent from 2012.

And thanks to Miley Cyrus you can now enjoy the spectacle of white women with virtually no booty trying to twerk.

Miley twerking_2655244b
In 2013 Miley Cyrus and the ‘mainstream media’ discovered twerking

Apparently the new fitness craze is twerk-azize, or twerk-aerobics or something like that, though how you can achieve those moves if your back-side is best regarded as a flat expanse of flesh that connects your back to your legs, is beyond me.

When Lily Allen wanted to feature twerking in the controversial video for her last single and couldn’t deliver it herself , she recruited some Black girls to do the ‘booty shaking’ for her.

Lily Allen thinks,…… ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’

Not only this, but white women are risking skin cancer in order to maintain a year round tan and even injecting collagen into their lips for a fuller pout.
So is this good news for Black women? Will they now move from being figures of scorn and derision to the ultimate symbols of female desirability?
Well unfortunately it’s not that simple.

beyonce booty
Miss booty-licious herself Queen B. Recognise!

While the ideal of female beauty may no longer be Kate Moss, neither is it Serena Williams.
While Beyonce is celebrated for her curves,

she works famously hard to make sure

she doesn’t deviate too wide of the size 10 ideal.

And while she’s happy to display her booty,

we have yet to see her natural hair.

I’ve no idea what Beyonce’s hair looks like in its natural state,

but I’m pretty sure it’s not straight and blonde!

When the super-producer of the moment Pharrell released a new album this year entitled Girl, he chose to adorn its cover with three models. When he faced criticism for not featuring a Black model amongst them, he was at pains to point out that in fact, one of the featured models was indeed Black. But you’d have to look hard to realise, as typically she was of the lighter-skinned variety. It seems that in Pharrell’s version of the United Colours of Benetton of female beauty, Crème Caramel is as dark as it gets.


Rather than the Black female archetype, the new beauty ideal in America is Latino (fittingly since they are that country’s fastest growing ethnic group) and in the UK the new ideal is something resembling mixed-race (appropriate since they are this country’s fastest growing ethnic group). Lightly tanned women of mixed heritage like Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Patton, and Zoe Saldana. Progress, yes, but we have not yet reached the promised land!

Lupita got a lot of love this year, but how much impact will she have?

There has been much fuss made of new Oscar-winning actress Lupita N’Yongo,   who for the last few months has not only  set the movie world alight, but the fashion world too. It as though the fashion and movie  industries have just discovered that African women exist.

Dark skinned AND overweight? No chance!

But for those hoping that Lupita will change the perception and desirableness of dark-skinned women, I fear that Lupita will have as much impact for dark-skinned women as previously Oscar nominated Gabourey Sidibe did for the image of obese women.

So Black women can now flaunt their curves with pride, but it will be a while before they are invited to the mainstream’s fashion and media party.

Lee Pinkerton

Jessica Ennis and ………..

Well the greatest show on earth is over, and we can now reflect on what lessons we can take from the spectacle.  Part of the pleasure of watching these recent Olympics, was seeing the lean and muscular bodies of the competitors, honed to perfection.  This is not the same as ‘perving’ over the bodies of glamour models or porn stars.  You know that these athletes’ bodies are the products of years of hard training, not the quick fix of tummy tucks, liposuction, and silicone implants that so much of the rest of the population are prepared to resort to in the pursuit of perfection.

In support of the US Olympic team, in July the UK was visited by first lady Michelle Obama and former Olympic champion Carl Lewis. Mrs Obama has been vocal in her attempts to encourage healthy eating and reduce obesity in the US.  But despite the svelte example set by the POTUS and the First Lady, reducing America’s skyrocketing obesity levels looks like a ‘mission impossible’ that would make Tom Cruise think twice!  For though they might lead the world in Gold medal winning Olympians, they also lead the world in fatsos!

Michelle Obama – leading the fight against obesity in the US.

Obesity levels in the US have increased faster than any other nation on earth, now at around 35% of the population.  And just as in the Olympics medal table, the UK are not far behind, with about 25% of the UK population being classified as obese.  Projections are that by 2050 60% of men and 50% of women will be in this category. The contrast between the super-fit athletes and the couch potato general public grows ever more stark.

As part of my background reading in preparation for this year’s Olympics I came across the story of Andy Cougan. Mr Logan was nominated by multiple Gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy to carry the Olympic torch through Dundee back in June.  Logan was one of Scotland’s brightest athletes in the 1930s but his career was cut short by the Second World War. Fighting in the Far East he was captured by the Japanese and held in various prisoner of war camps for nearly four years, where he was forced to do hard labour and nearly died from Malaria.  When he returned to Glasgow in 1945 he weighed less than 7 stone, and was never again able to compete at the highest level, although he did resume running just for the love of the sport.  Despite his physical hardships this man was still fit enough to carry the Olympic torch at the age of 95.

Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Cougan

It also made me think of Nelson Mandela.  He suffered in prison for 27 years, and he too did his share of hard labour in a lime quarry, and yet he still alive to see the age of 94.  It got me thinking, maybe there is a link between a life of hard work and relative deprivation and longevity.

On Monday August 6th the BBC’s Horizon series hosted an edition entitled Eat, Fast and Live Longer. The basic thrust of the programme was that survival on a minimal diet can actually help you live longer.  According to the programme’s host Michael Mosely “calorie restriction is the only thing that’s ever really been shown to prolong life.” Experiments on a variety of species, among them fish, rodents and dogs, have shown that calorie restriction appears to increase both median and maximum life span.  Animals fed very low calorie diets and found to be the thinnest (without being medically underweight or malnourished) were the healthiest and lived the longest.

Another remarkable OAP who carried the Olympic torch this year, who was also featured in the programme was veteran marathon runner Fauja Singh.  He is 5ft 8in, weighs just over 8 stone, and survives on a calorie-light, vegetable and plant based diet.  Clocking in at 101 years old it is obviously a diet that works well for him.

101 year old Fauja Singh

Not only does the highly calorific western diet shorten our lives, but  it has been found that sugar also makes us look older.  Research has shown that a diet high in sugar and high glycaemic carbohydrates, such as breads, rice, potatoes and baked goods, can create a chemical reaction that makes skin more stiff and inflexible, leading to premature ageing.  It all makes McDonald’s sponsorship of the Olympics look all the more out of place.

One of the challenges facing the organisers of the Games is to create a ‘legacy’.  Part of the problem is that there is such a large disconnect between the pizza and burger guzzling couch potatoes who watch the Olympics from their sofas, and the hardcore dedicated athletes who train to compete.  But you don’t need to have a chance of competing in Rio in 2016 in order to be inspired by the efforts of our Olympians.  Despite what advertisers would have us believe, you don’t have to spend money on the latest new gadget, or scientific discovery, to achieve health and longevity.  What our bodies really need is for us to go back to basics and behave in the way in tune with how our bodies evolved over thousands of years.

Here are some life lesson and health tips that we can all take from the Olympics.

  1.  ‘Llow the McDonalds.  Put down the burgers and the chicken Mc Nuggets – eat more fruit and veg.
  2. Despite what the sponsors would have you believe, you don’t need the Powerade, and Lucozade, unless you’re running a marathon or triathlon.  Water is all you need to keep you hydrated. And not even the expensive bottled variety.  What comes out of the tap in this country is just fine.
  3. Forget cosmetic surgery.The number of women who have paid the ultimate price for their vanity, and died during or after cosmetic surgery continues to grow each year.  Just this year a Black British woman died after having silicone injected into her buttocks trying to get the Beyonce booty, and scores of British women were running to their doctors to have their sub-standard breast implants removed. Ladies – rather than using silicone, botox, collagen, liposuction, tummy tucks and gastric bands to maintain your looks, try swimming, yoga, pilates, salsa, zumba and spin classes.4.Switch off the X-box.  Forget playing Fifa 12, WWF Smackdown, UFC Undisputed, and NBA jams on a console.  Get out and do it in real life.  Not only is it good for your health but will improve your social life.

5.Persistance overcomes resistance, adversity can make you or break you so don’t give up – Mo Farah failed to qualify for the 5,000m final in Beijing four years ago, before winning Gold in London. Jessica Ennis could not compete in the Beijing Olympics because of an ankle injury.  Rower Katherine Grainger had to settle for silver in Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and Beijing in 2008, before winning gold at London 2012.  You can’t fail until you quit.

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins

So rather than just enjoying the two weeks or Olympic spectacle, and then just going back to life as normal, trying taking inspiration from the example of these super-athletes, to make positive changes in your own life.